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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

REVIEW -- Taste Guru March 2015 box

Taste Guru
March 2015 Box

What is Taste Guru?
Taste Guru is a gluten-free, box-of-the-month company. We strive to help people who have celiac disease or are gluten sensitive to find the absolute best gluten free products on the market.
I apologize for the lateness on this. I got very far behind on reviews... especially with Verizon's GLORIOUS connectivity issues (which STILL don't seem to be resolved). But, I wanted to get this posted before this week's Tasty Thursday entry.

Due to a miscommunication between Taste Guru and their suppliers, I was also sent the March 2015 box for review. Let's take a look inside.


SKINNY SHIRATAKI NOODLES Gluten-free, low-carb, low-calorie Skinny Noodles are the easy way to eat right! American made and available in 6 soy-free varieties I couldn’t even EAT these. I barely got past the smell when I opened the bag. I cooked them, took one bite and promptly tossed them. They didn’t even LOOK appetizing, but I pushed the thought out of my mind and tried them anyway. Nope. not happening. TASTE: 1/10

KEEN ONE QUINOA
Keen One Quinoa promotes creative eating, healthy diets and sustainable communities at home and in Bolivia, sourcing fair trade quinoa from the cooperatives of the Altiplano highlands, outside of La Paz

I got the Chipotle flavor, and this was delicious. A bit on the spicy side, but nothing too hot for me. I make my chicken salads equal to the level of hotness, if not a little hotter. I was expecting a rice-like grain to this, so I was surprised when these were little ball grains. I’d actually would like to get more of this.
TASTE: 9/10


E-HYDRATE DRINK MIX
E-hydrate is a natural powdered drink mix that can be added to any liquid to deliver vitamins, minerals and more electrolytes than the leading sports drinks. E-hydrate is healthy hydration.

Another item I did not like. I’ll admit, I’m a sugar-holic. I do like SOME diet drinks, but this was not one of them. I got a grape, orange, red berry and lemon-lime packet. Only one that was decent was the lemon-lime. I would opt to have less vitamins, minerals and electrolytes and go for a Gatorade.
TASTE: 2/10


LAIKI RED RICE CRACKER
Rice. Oil. Salt. No labels to read, Nothing to worry about. 100% whole grain, vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO. The snack packs are packed with flavor and nutrients from red rice.

Reminded me of the Brown Rice Triscuts. Very yummy, even with only 3 ingredients. I would definitely eat these again, if given the chance.
TASTE: 9.5/10


SEAWEED LOVE
Roasted seaweed is the perfect Korean side dish and snack for years. A healthy and tasty treat. It is low in calories and fat, and packed with vitamins and minerals.

These are an acquired taste… one that I never acquired. These have a very strong fish/seafood flavor to them, and while I do like fish/seafood, these were just disgusting. The Koreans can keep these.
TASTE: 1/10


HARVEST SNAPS SNACKS
The smooth, mild flavor of the pea is already delicious. So why mess with Mother Nature? We simply sprinkled it with a little salt to bring out the flavor and voila! Natural goodness, made great.

I have already reviewed these snacks HERE. Please read that review, since I can’t say anymore than I already have about these.
TASTE: 10/10


AMRITA NUTRITION BAR
If you want a quick visit from Asia, this Mango Coconut bar will not disappoint! These raw, vegan bars are free of the top allergens and taste amazing!

This was alright. Not something that I would order special, but if I saw them in a store, I might grab one. Sort of had the texture of a fig bar or a Nutri-Grain cereal bar.
I got this to myself, since Mama Melissa is allergic to coconut. So much for being free of allergens. The mango and coconut played nicely with each other, and it gave it a more tropical or Polynesian taste than Asian.
TASTE: 7/10


MARUSO SOY SAUCE The thickness of Maruso Soy Sauces set them apart from the rest. Try the Original, aranmi-loaded flavor, or go for the Ghost Soy Sauce and kick it up with a little Ghost Chili pepper! 

I tried the Original on the leftover Keen One Quinoa we had, and it was a bit too thick for me. For soy sauce, it had an odd flavor to it. I suspect that was the aranmi flavoring, because that flavor is not present in commercial soy sauce.
I ended up giving the Ghost Pepper packet to a friend, since I don’t do anything with Ghost peppers in it. Not happening.
TASTE: 6/10


WEI KITCHEN COOKING OIL
Small-batch, Seattle-based food company specializing in Vietnamese and Asian-inspired home-cooking products

Tastes just like normal cooking oil, with a hint of Asian flair. I warmed up some leftover boneless chicken with this and it had a bit of ‘Chinese Takeout’ flavor to it.
For the price the company wants for a bottle, I don’t see myself actually purchasing this oil, but it does have a very nice flavor to it.
TASTE: 8/10


HI-CHEW GUMMIES
A smooth, caramel-like texture mixes with fruity flavors to bring you a Japanese treat that has gone worldwide. These sweet treats are gluten-free and 100% delicious!

Fruit caramels. Very soft, very chewy, very sweet. Next to the Harvest Snaps snacks above, These were my favorite in the box.
I received the apple flavor, and it really did taste like I was eating an apple. These didn’t hurt my teeth at all, like I expected them to. I would love to get these in different flavors.
TASTE: 9.5/10

I really don't see disabled people having a problem eating these snacks, barring any chewing/swallowing issues. The hardest thing I see would be opening the box, the individual packages and cooking anything that needs to be cooked.

Taste Guru has merged with Love With Food and has become their Gluten-Free box. Please visit Taste Guru for more info.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Great Box for those who need/want to avoid gluten, but still eat yummy foods.
STARS:
WOULD RECOMMEND: Yes/No

**As per FTC guidelines, I received this product in exchange for an honest review. Only compensation I received is the product(s) mentioned above. All opinions are my own and your usage/results may vary.**

Saturday, September 26, 2015

SELF-PURCHASE SATURDAY -- MunchPak

Muchpak

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION
What is MunchPak?

MunchPak is an assortment of the best snacks from around the world delivered to your home, dorm room, or office as often as you would like.
We are snack junkies here. We love love LOVE snacks. That's why 90% of my food review videos have empty/ripped open wrappers.

Mama Melissa decided to subscribe to MunchPak, which send snacks from around the world. I like this concept because, while I like American snacks, I LOVE getting foreign snacks. It's so fun seeing what other countries have for 'junk food.'

I told Mama Melissa I would do a written review on this, so I'm going in the order she unboxed the MunchPak in. FYI, We got the FamilyPak, which has at least 20 snacks.

INSIDE SEPTEMBER'S MUNCHPAK

Herr's Ketchup Flavored Potato Chips
With a crispy texture and wholesome big ridges, these chips taste just like french fries dipped in ketchup. A perfect snack for any ketchup lover!
Country: United States

Now, see… I always thought Ketchup chips were a Canadian thing. I’d never seen them in the US… and I was NOT about to buy them on eBay. Nope. Not happening. And… OMG, Herr’s. Herr’s is the BEST potato chip. If you’re from Pennsylvania and don’t like Herr’s, you’re looked like like you’re crazy. When Mama Melissa opened the Munckpak box and I saw these, my inner teenaged Pennsylvanian cried tears of joy. The ketchup flavor tasted SO good and played awesomely with the chip. One bite and I was a teenager again… Now, where did my teenage mobility go?
TASTE: 10/10

Lotte Koalas Green Tea Matcha Flavor
Utterly delicious Lotte Koalas light and flaky biscuit cookies that are filled to the brim with delightfully creamy green tea matcha flavored filling.
Country: Japan

I have had the Hello Panda biscuits before and they were delicious. These were another snack I wasn’t 100% crazy for, which is strange, since I used to drink Lipton’s Citrus Green Tea like it was going out of style. The filling is very creamy, but I just didn’t like the flavor of it. Mama Melissa LOVED these.
TASTE: 7/10

ETI Pizza Crackers
Very delicious as they have a very bold and very real pizza flavor and a great texture similar to dinner crackers. Great snack.
Country: Turkey

When Mama Melissa opened these, I was expecting a taste similar to the Pizza Goldfish crackers we have here in the US. I was sadly disappointed.
I’m not saying they weren’t good, because they were. I would have just liked a little more pizza taste to them.
TASTE: 8/10

Dalcolle Super Chocolate
Delectably delightful rich, creamy and moist milk chocolate cake-like pastry treat makes for an incredibly delicious snacking experience.
Country: Italy

I personally wasn’t crazy over this one. The chocolate tasted like dark chocolate, even though it says milk chocolate. The cake in this one was soft, but seemed a bit dry. Mama Melissa LOVED this one.
TASTE: 7/10

DalColle Super Milk
Moist, rich, creamy and dreamy are the only way we could describe such an amazingly delicious cake-like pastry treat.
Country: Italy

Tasted just like a Twinkie. Mama Melissa and I both loved the vanilla flavored filling and the cake in this one seemed much more moist and had the same softness as the chocolate one. Those Italians sure can bake!
TASTE: 9/10

Stark Prima Pretzel Sticks
Crunchy and wholesome baked salted pretzel sticks. Light taste with the perfect texture makes for an excellent snack.
Country: Serbia

Tasted like peanut butter filled pretzel sticks, although the peanut butter filling was lacking. I tasted more pretzel than peanut butter. Still delicious though.
TASTE: 7/10

Kras Kiki Jagoda Strawberry Toffee
Deliciously chewy strawberry flavored toffee has the perfect texture and juiciness to make this a super yummy treat.
Country: Croatia

Very similar to the outer texture and size of a Starburst candy. So when I bit into this, I was totally expecting that same hard chewiness that needs to be sucked on for a minute or two before actually chewing.
Not so. My teeth sank right into it and chewed these easily. I also sensed a bit of juice/liquid in these. Sadly, it was a ‘fake strawberry’ flavor, but still yummy.
They have other flavors of these, although Munckpak didn’t list the actual flavors. However, the other two flavors listed seem to be more geared towards those watching their diets, because they are fortified with vitamins and minerals.
TASTE: 9.5/10

Canasta Chocolate Cookies
These incredibly delightful little cookies might seem small, but they pack a great taste and are perfect for anyone's snack time.
Country: Costa Rica

I think I had something similar to these as a child around the Holidays. If it was the same cookie, It’s not as good as I remember; I think they may have changed the chocolate taste. Still yummy though.
TASTE: 7/10

Nissin Choco Flakes
Crispy, delicious corn flakes dipped in Chocolate. Goes perfect with milk!
Country: Japan

Corn flakes covered in chocolate… powder? I don’t really want to say these were dipped in chocolate, because when I think of something being dipped in chocolate, I think of the item being completely COVERED in chocolate, such as chocolate covered fruit or chocolate covered pretzels.
The chocolate on these were more consistent with Chocolate Cheerios or Malt-o-meal’s version of Cocoa Puffs. You could still see the corn flakes through the chocolate.
These are made by the same company that makes Top Ramen®.
TASTE: 7/10

Tayto Roast Chicken Crisps
These super tasty and thick cut potato chips carry a bold roast chicken flavor with a great crunch.
Country: Ireland

These were NOT thick. I consider wavy potato chips, like Ruffles or Lays Wavy, to be cut thick. These were just normal-cut potato chips.
The flavor was interesting. Tasted like the flavoring was powdered chicken broth, but yet, not as salty as a bouillon cube or ramen seasoning. I really liked these, and even Mama Melissa liked them, and she doesn’t like chicken.
TASTE: 8.5/10

Glico Pretz Tom Yum Flavor
These are super tasty treats are brought to you from Glico. Cracker like pretzel sticks with an exceptionally delicious spicy citrus flavor of rich Thai Tom Yum Goong Flavor.
Country: Thailand

I wasn’t too fond of these. I usually like Asian-inspired cuisine, but this was just WAY too odd for me. It kinda reminded me of a peppery orange flavor. Um, No. Mama Melissa liked them alot though.
TASTE: 6/10

Festy Chocolate Cookies
These scrumptious treats are made of delicious vanilla cream filling that is sandwiched between perfectly crunchy chocolate cookies.
Country: United States

Tasted just like a generic Oreo. The chocolate cookie had a different flavoring than the Oreos, but the cream was the same.
TASTE: 9/10

Morinaga Hi-Chew Cherry Flavor
These are so yummy! Deliciously juicy, chewy and scrumptious Hi-Chews in mouth-watering cherry flavor.
Country: Japan

I’ve had Hi-Chews before, but those were (I believe) the apple flavor. ‘Fake Cherry’ flavor abounds in these chewy candies, which have a texture somewhere between the strawberry toffee above and Starburst candies. The cherry flavor was EXACTLY like a cherry lollipop or a LifeSaver in cherry flavor. I really liked these, better than the apple ones.
TASTE: 9.5/10

Pei Tien Bibi Bear Rice Cake Milk Flavor
Pei Tien Bibi Bear Rice Cakes are a delicious, crunchy and healthy Snack
Country: Taiwan

Tasted like a soft, sweet cracker more than a ‘rice cake.’ Not exactly soft like a cake, but yet, not crunchy like a cookie either. I liked the taste of these, but I really don’t know how to describe the texture.
TASTE: 8.5/10

Puccho Stick Soda
These juicy, chewy and delicious soda flavored candies are exceptional in quality and flavor. Similar to that of a Hi-chew or Starburst in texture but with a taste that stands alone.
Country: Japan

Just like Hi-Chew... chewy texture and all. Very soft on the teeth and doesn’t get stuck on/in them either. Had a very nice lemon-lime flavor with the sweetness of a Sprite and actually left my mouth tingling after chewing it for a few minutes. I wouldn’t mind getting a few more packs of these.
TASTE: 9/10

Shiawase Nikukyu Gummy Apple
Delicious apple yogurt flavored gummies in the shape of adorable animal paws.
Country: Japan

Softer than the typical gummy candies the US has. The apple flavor was a pleasant surprise and the apple flavored ‘half’ melded with the creamy yogurt flavored ‘half’ wonderfully. I believe there are other flavors of this, since I saw Cassandra Morgan have a similarly shaped package in one of her Okashi Connection videos.
TASTE: 8.5/10

Umaibo Mentaiko Flavor
This popular, crunchy and savory corn snack is a huge favorite in Japan. This particular flavor tastes just like Mentaiko (marinated roe of pollock and cod)
Country: Japan

A huge ‘cheese curl,’ without the powdered cheese flavor. Mama Melissa and I didn’t really taste the seafood flavoring in this; we tasted more of a chili powder/spicy flavor to it.
TASTE: 9/10

Ginbis Simi Choco Snack
Delicious and crunchy snack made for everyone to enjoy. These chocolate snacks are light, crispy, crunchy and delicious. They are great by themselves or try putting them in a bowl of milk as cereal. yum!
Country: Japan

I love how they say to put these in a bowl as cereal. There were maybe 6 pieces in the bag and they would be entirely WAY too big for cereal pieces.
That being said, these are JUST like Cocoa Puffs or other chocolate flavored corn cereals, except bigger. The size reminded me a lot of a Necco wafer in diameter and the thickness of a cheese curl/ball. Very tasty. Just wish there were more in the bag.
TASTE: 8.5/10

Western's Smokehouse Bacon Flavor Snack Stick
Savory, juicy and delicious is the best way we can describe this full flavor smokey Bacon flavored meat stick snack.
Country: United States

A soft Slim Jim. Very chewy and tender. Seemed to melt in my mouth; not much chewing needed. I didn’t taste an overpowering of bacon flavor, but it was there.
TASTE: 9/10

Jos Perece Pretzel
Delicious Pretzels that are the perfect amount of salty, crunchy, wholesome and tasty to make this a great addition to snack time.
Country: Serbia

Mini pretzels. That’s the ONLY way to describe these. They seemed to have some sort of yellow coloring on them, but it didn't affect the taste.
TASTE: 9/10

Only problem I see disabled people having with this (minus any allergies) is opening the packages and chewing the chewy candies thoroughly. If you can eat snacks, you'll be fine.

This is available from MunchPak.com starting at $9.95. These come in 3 sizes; MunchPak Mini (5-6 Snacks), MunchPak Original (10+ Snacks) and MunchPak Family Pak (20+ Snacks), and you can have it delivered weekly, bi-monthy or monthly. As I said, Mama Melissa subscribed to the FamilyPak, delivered monthly.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Love this service! It's great to get snacks from around the world without leaving your house!
STARS:
WOULD RECOMMEND: Yes

Thursday, September 10, 2015

TASTY THURSDAY -- Send Me Gluten Free September 2015 box

Send Me Gluten Free
September 2015 Box

What is Send Me Gluten Free?
We’re not here to save the world, we just want to make yours a whole lot easier.

Our mission is to help the gluten free community by providing great resources and fun ways to try new products that are safe for you and your family. That mission is so important to us because we get it...most of our team lives gluten free. We know first-hand how difficult it can be to find the best products and we’re here to make all of that easier with our monthly subscription box. We hope you’ll join us!
Send Me Gluten Free is a subscription box similar to Taste Guru, catering to the gluten free diet/lifestyle. I luckily DON'T have to follow a gluten free diet, but I actually don't mind gluten free foods.

I was sent the September 2015 box for review.

So, What was in the September 2015 box?


^^Massel 7's Bullion Cubes^^

MASSEL 7'S BULLION CUBES

Description: Our tasty vegetable bouillon is packed with quality ingredients like: onion, spinach, cabbage, garlic and celery. We also make rich vegan beef style and vegan chicken style bouillons for when you fancy a fuller flavored stock. We spent years perfecting our gluten-free bouillon to provide a delicious alternative to meat stocks and broths for vegans, vegetarians and everyone wanting tasty, healthy food.

I actually have not tried these yet, as it's been WAY too hot for stews or soups. Now with the cooler Autumn weather rolling in, I'm sure we'll be trying them soon.
TASTE: ?/10


^^Biena Chickpeas in Cinnamon Crunch and Sea Salt flavors^^

BIENA CHICKPEA SNACKS

Description: Biena is a small food company on a big mission. We want to change how Americans snack, for the better.
Biena is built on the idea of making snacks that are truly “good.” Good for your taste buds, and good for your body. It’s so important to us that it’s part of our name – Biena was created from the Spanish word “bien” which means “good.”
Our Chickpea Snacks are dramatically different than other snacks. First – we’re obsessed with taste. Our Snacks are lightly crunchy, flaky and flavorful. It took us hundreds of trials to perfect our recipes and roasting process. This is why Biena is the most award winning Chickpea Snack on the market.
Also, Biena has a fantastic nutrition profile. What do we mean by that? It’s the Biena “trifecta” – more protein and fiber to fill you up, with significantly less fat than nuts and chips. Virtually no other type of snack offers this combination naturally. You get the crunch and flavor that you want, in a much, much healthier way.
Finally - we never compromise on quality of ingredients. We use all-natural ingredients and our snacks are Non-GMO Verified. Biena is made from scratch in the USA.
Come join our community and lets revolution snacking together. #BienaGood

I did an entire review on this same brand of chick peas about a month ago; You can find that review here: Biena Chick Peas. I can't say much more than what I already have said.
TASTE: 9.25/10


^2 Degrees Chocolate Banana Snack bar^^

2 DEGREES CHOCOLATE BANANA MINI SNACK BAR

Description: We fight childhood hunger. It’s why we exist.
We do this by asking people to reconsider their daily purchases.
At 2 Degrees Food, we believe that your everyday purchase choices have a big impact. Instead of grabbing just any snack, you can now choose one that feeds your hunger and helps do the same for a hungry child.
That’s the power of the Buy-One-Give-One model: For every 2 Degrees bar you buy, we feed a hungry child.
Our gluten free and vegan snack bars are loaded with healthy grains, fruits and toasted nuts that will give keep you going all day.
Our mission is to empower you to help us feed 200 million hungry children. The distance between you and a hungry child may seem far, but you’re only two degrees away.

We received one bar of the Chocolate Banana variety, which Mama Melissa and I split. To me, it tasted like a chewy granola bar, covered in chocolate. There were a LOT of grains in this, but I didn't think it was bad at all. There was a nice crispy chewiness to it.
Two Degrees Foods is offering a promo code if you buy these from their site. Go to TwoDegreesFood.com and use promo code SMGF15 to save 15% off your entire order. You will be providing 19 meals to hungry children by doing so.
TASTE: 8/10


^^Don't Go Nuts Soybean spread^^

DON'T GO NUTS CHOCOLATE SOYBEAN SPREAD

Description: Our best seller. 2X more protein and 1/3 the sugar per serving as chocolate-flavored hazelnut spreads! A flavor all its own, featuring organic cocoa.

Tasted okay. Got a bit too salty at the end, to the point of the salt overpowering the chocolate taste. I'd like to try the Cinnamon Sugar flavor to see if that has less of a salty taste, but this flavor did nothing for me.
TASTE: 6/10


^^Kimmie Choco Rocks candies^^

KIMMIE CHOCO ROCKS CANDIES

Description: ChocoRocks- candy coated, chocolaty chunks

Remember Nerds? The candy-coated pieces of sugar that come in a box? Well, these are like Nerds, but in chocolate instead of sugar. Mama Melissa and I REALLY liked these. There were very chocolaty, without the mess. Just pour directly into your mouth and chew.
TASTE: 9/10


^^Kimmie Sunbursts^^

KIMMIE SUNBURSTS CANDIES

Description: Enjoy the great taste of chocolaty covered, roasted sunflower kernels covered in a colorful candy shell! Try Sunbursts today for a nutritious, tasty treat.

I love sunflower seeds/kernels. Yes, they make me have bowel issues, but I still love them. I really liked these, because they were delicious and not hard on my teeth either. You are able to taste the sunflower kernels taste through the chocolate and the candy shell.
Kimmie Candies is also offering a discount code through the end of the year. Use the code GF0915 to get 10% off your first order. Offer expires 12.31.15
TASTE: 9/10


^^Qwackers Crackers^^

QWACKERS CRAKCKERS

Description: Introducing Qwackers Crackers, Duck Shaped 100% Gluten Free Crackers Baked in a Dedicated Gluten Free and Peanut Free Facility.

I'm going to be honest... when I saw these, I got excited, because I was picturing the old snack cracker from the 1980s, Quackers by Nabisco.
Sadly, these taste NOTHING like them. They actually taste like a stale puffed Goldfish cracker. Not saying that this is a bad thing, but I was expecting a different taste to these. Very crunchy though.
TASTE: 8/10


^^IPS chips in Barbeque^^

IPS EGG WHITE CHIPS

Description: IPS [rhymes with 'chips,' short for 'Intelligent Protein Snacks'] are the world's first snack chips made with healthy egg white protein. These delicious crunchy snacks are made with six grams of protein per serving and half the fat of fried chips. They are also gluten free and made with non-GMO corn.

Egg whites are hands-down my favorite part of the egg. Growing up, my mother used to get SO mad at me, because whenever she would make hard-boiled eggs, I'd either give her the yolks or toss them out and I'd just eat the whites.
We got the Barbeque flavor this time. Mama Melissa doesn't do anything with barbeque flavor, so I got these all to myself. I really liked these. They tasted like puffed corn chips. The only problem is you don't really taste the barbeque flavoring at first. The first bite of the chip tastes like Ranch, then the barbeque flavor kicks in.
TASTE: 9/10


^^Free for all Brownie Thins^^

FREE FOR ALL BROWNIE THINS

Description: Our gluten-free brownie thins are crispy, crunchy, and delectable. Made with Dutch cocoa, butter, buttermilk and sea salt for a robust, rich chocolate flavor.

I really didn't care for these myself, as I try to avoid chocolate as much as I can. It's not that I don't like it; I seem to cough and gag when I eat it. I ended up giving these to Mama Melissa, since I took the IPS snacks. I did eat one for tasting purposes, and to me, it just tasted like a double chocolate cookie.
TASTE: 8/10

Like with most foods/subscription boxes, the biggest problem disabled people (minus any chewing issues) will have is opening the packages. Some of the food packages are small, so it's hard to open.

You can start your own subscription at sendmeglutenfree.com. I also have a discount code for all my readers -- 20% off any subscription length with the code BLOG20.

BUT WAIT!!! Send Me Gluten Free wants to give my readers a chance to win October's Box.

Send Me Gluten Free box Giveaway
The CP Chick is not responsible for delivery of prize. The CP Chick will, however, work with Send Me Gluten Free to ensure delivery.
ALL MANDATORY ENTRIES MUST BE COMPLETED TO WIN

FINAL THOUGHTS
I really liked the assortment in this box. It went from sweet to salty to savory. I was pleasantly surprised at how many things can be gluten free, but still tasty.
STARS:
WOULD RECOMMEND: Yes

**As per FTC guidelines, I received this product in exchange for an honest review. Only compensation I received is the product(s) mentioned above. All opinions are my own and your usage/results may vary.**

Monday, September 7, 2015

REVIEW -- Personal Chef to Go

Personal Chef to Go

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION
Fresh Meal Delivery? How is this possible?

Each order is delivered fresh, never frozen, to your home or office using refrigerated shipping containers that are professionally tested and guaranteed to keep your meals properly chilled and flavor fresh for up to 60-hours of transit time.

Each weekly menu is prepared from scratch by professionally trained chefs under Corporate Chef Gene Castelluccio's close supervision. Next your meals are quickly and specially packaged in oxygen free packaging that locks in flavor and preserves freshness for over 10 days. All menu plans are kept super cold and well insulated from the rigors of transit with the best packaging technology available. Your order is then rush-shipped to your home via either Federal Express Ground or Second Day Express service depending on your delivery destination. All orders will arrive within 48 hours upon leaving our licensed and inspected facility.
Growing up in PA, I was pretty much left to my own devices as a tween and young teenager. Mommy had a job at the local nursing home and then at the 'rest home' in our trailer park, so there were MANY nights I was responsible for my own supper.

But there are only SO many TV dinners, pot pies and other quick, microwavable meals a young teenager can make before she screams, 'ENOUGH!' and begs her mom to have a homecooked meal waiting in the oven or microwave for her, and warm that up. I didn't qualify for 'Meals on Wheels' because of my age and the fact that I could cook somewhat, even if it was the microwave. (Not to mention, I was steady on my feet then and Mommy did teach me how to cook, so I could have made myself something more elaborate, like spaghetti and meat sauce, if I chose)

But, the CP got worse, I got unsteady and I began getting around with a walker (which I do so PROUDLY, ThankYouVeryMuch!!) So, cooking became a little harder. I can still do it, but it's not as easy as before.

But, I still didn't want 'Meals on Wheels.' Not that there's anything WRONG with it, but I personally would feel QUITE embarrassed to be on the program in my mid 30's.

Enter Personal Chef to Go, the meal plan for those who either can't or don't have the time to make great tasting meals.

I was fortunate enough to be sent a full week of the 'Busy Singles' plan for review.


BAD photo of my meals

Let's look at each meal.

Grilled Shrimp Salad with Caesar dressing
Not a fan of Caesar dressing to begin with. Loved the shrimp, Asiago cheese, Roma Cherry tomatoes and the red pepper, but the Caesar dressing ruined the mixed greens for me.
TASTE: 7/10

Citrus Basted Salmon with Cilantro Chipotle Sauce served with fresh seasonal vegetables
Tasted alright. Only type of Salmon I had before this was canned salmon, when Mommy would make fried salmon cakes with fried potatoes. I liked how the citrusy flavor played with the Cilantro Chipotle sauce.
I wasn’t crazy over the brussel sprouts. I liked the edamame beans, but I like the Green Giant preparation of brussel sprouts. I didn’t care for the ‘natural’ brussel sprouts.
TASTE: 7.5/10

Veggy Cannelloni; pasta tubes stuffed with wild mushrooms, spinach and ricotta cheese, topped with puree of cauliflower served with roasted vegetable ratatouille
I was NOT a fan of the ratatouille. It tasted alright, but the presentation was terrible. The vegetables honestly looked rotten and spoiled.
However, the stuffed Cannelloni was awesome. I loved the ricotta cheese and spinach mixture. I like ricotta cheese to begin with anyway. I’m surprised I liked this, since I HATE cooked spinach. I like spinach on my Subway subs, but I don’t like it cooked.
TASTE: 9/10

Bourbon Glazed Chicken Breast with Toasted Walnut Crust served with roasted butternut squash
Favorite meal of the shipment.  I really couldn't taste the bourbon; then again, I have no clue what bourbon tastes like.  The walnuts were soft and chewy. The chicken was very tender, easily cutable with a butter knife. The butternut squash was also tender, and I was able to 'mash' them with just a fork. I also liked the fact that I didn't need butter or salt added to the squash. It was delicious with just the herbs and spices added.
TASTE: 10/10

Signature Vegetarian Garden Burger topped with tomato herb salsa served with Quinoa and Brown Rice blend
I actually ended up freezing this one before it spoiled on me, and haven't made it yet. Once I have, I will update this.
TASTE: ?/10

Korean Grilled Beef in Sesame Ginger Garlic Sauce served with wild and brown rice pilaf
Really delicious. Would have liked more of an Asian taste to this dish, as the Korean flavor was a bit on the weak side... then again, I've ate a LOT of Chinese food in my life. So, I could be bias. But the rice was yummy.
TASTE: 9.5/10

Beef Fajita Salad with Chili Cilantro Dressing 
I didn't even eat the mixed greens this time, as there was one that bothered my stomach the last time.  Was a bit disappointed that the 'beef' was just very dry Deli roast beef, because when I think of fajitas, I think of thick strips of beef, similar to the strips in the Korean Beef entree. But the dressing was quite tasty.
TASTE: 8/10

Oven Roasted Chicken Salad with Toasted Walnuts and Assorted Reduced Fat Cheese in our Low Fat Vinaigrette
Again, I did not eat the greens. I felt cheated on this one, because there was just one ‘cube’ of cheddar cheese. However, it did NOT taste like it was a reduced fat variety. I drizzled the vinaigrette over the chicken and ate it that way. The dressing played very nicely with the chicken. I also liked the red berries and the walnuts, which I ate as a ‘dessert.’
TASTE: 9/10

These meals are made to be 'cooked' in the microwave, but since we don't have one, I used our oven to cook them. I didn't see or taste a loss in the quality of the meals. The meals are prepared in a way that will keep them fresh and edible for up to 8 days after receiving them, or you can freeze them for longer storage. I wasn't able to make one of the meals, so as stated above, I did freeze one meal.

The biggest problem I see disabled people having with this program is actually the packing supplies. It comes in a huge box that I actually had to move with my feet. The meals were packed in a styrofoam cooler with ice packs to keep them fresh as they traveled across the country. The plastic placed over the meals will probably be the hardest thing for disabled people to deal with. It was awful difficult to pull back.

This is available from Personal Chef to Go website starting at $69.50 and up, depending on the plan. (I received the 'Busy Singles' plan, priced at $99.50 for a one-time order) There is a discount for subscribing. However, if you need special dietary restrictions followed (No salt, kosher, no certain vegetable, etc), there is a $10 additional charge for this.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Great idea for disabled people who don't want to be enrolled in the 'Meals on Wheels' program.
STARS:
WOULD RECOMMEND: Yes

**As per FTC guidelines, I received this product in exchange for an honest review. Only compensation I received is the product(s) mentioned above. All opinions are my own and your usage/results may vary.**

A HUGE THANK YOU TO THE FOLKS AT PERSONAL CHEF TO GO FOR SENDING A WEEKLY MEAL PLAN TO REVIEW. iT WAS GREATLY APPRECIATED.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

REVIEW -- Gift-a-Feast Gift box

Gift-a-Feast gift boxes

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION
Wish you had time to send a gift that truly brightens a friend’s day? Then Gift A Feast is for you. We shop for handcrafted treats from the San Francisco Bay Area’s thriving food scene. Then we wrap each product by hand into a gorgeous package, include a handwritten note card with your personal message and ship nationwide.
I love getting a gift box of goodies. It's always so fun to get a surprise box, open it up and see all the goodies inside.

That's basically what Gift a Feast is... a surprise box of goodies from a friend. I was fortunate enough to receive the 'Feast of Appetizers' box for review.


Stock photo of the items I received

Since my photo-taking skills SUCK, I'll be using ALL stock photos from the Gift a Feast's website for this review. Let's take a look at everything I received.

Fra'Mani Salame Calabrese
Fra'Mani was founded in Berkeley in 2006 by Paul Bertolli, celebrated California chef and culinary writer, to produce premium cured meats in the famous tradition of Italian artisans (and of Bertolli's grandfather, a salumiere whose prosciutto and soppressata vicentina served as early inspirations for a career in gourmet cuisine).
Fra’Mani’s Salame Calabrese is a unique take on a Southern Italian style, combining wild fennel seed, sweet and hot Calabrian pepperoncino, and chili flakes.
This was interesting. I liked the salame, but it seemed very difficult to cut. I ended up having to ask Mama Melissa or Grandma to cut me some. It really isn't all that spicy, even though the 'recipe' says it includes Italian hot chili peppers and chili flakes. I likened the spiciness to a Slim Jim stick.
TASTE: 8/10

Central Coast Creamery Seascape
Central Coast Creamery was founded by cheese-maker Reggie Jones in Paso Robles in 2008 and produces a series of uniquely American cheese blends and flavors with milk from California’s hormone-free cows and goats.
Central Coast Creamery has won multiple “Best in Class” awards, including from the World Cheese Contest in Madison, Wisconsin. Guests always rave about this cheese when we serve it.
We chose Central Coast Creamery’s Seascape, a hand-crafted, aged cheese made from blended goat and cow milk. We fell in love with this cheese the first time we tasted it, and every time we serve it, it wins converts.
I liked this cheese. It tasted a lot like parmesan and reminded me a lot of the grated cheese you'd find in Pizza Hut or Kraft's Three Cheese Blend Grated Cheese. It wasn't a 'hard' cheese, but yet it wasn't a 'soft' cheese. I could easily cut it with a butter knife, but it didn't flop around like sliced mozzarella does.
TASTE: 9/10

Good Faith Farm Raw Lucques Olives - Lemon and Rosemary
Todd and Catherine Benson founded Good Faith Farm in 2006, shortly after settling into Flournoy in the northern Sacramento Valley. They had no plans for saving century-old olive groves, or for getting into olives at all, but when they sampled packaged olives produced in the area, they were saddened by the widespread practices of heat-canning and chemical cooking with lye to accelerate fermentation. They embrace the slow process of fermentation, curing olives for six to eighteen months in a brine solution composed of sea salts from Northern California and salt from ancient sea beds in Utah.The extra time is well worth it, producing olives with a variety of complex, earthy flavors, and a crisp texture.
To round out this gourmet appetizer gift box, we’ve included a pint of green Lucques olives seasoned with rosemary and lemon from Good Faith Farms. These are not your ordinary olives.
I liked these olives, but yet didn't. I am not one for pitted olives. I like my olives pit-free, pimento optional. I prefer BLACK olives to be completely honest.
However, these were delicious and not as salty as the commercially available green olives. I couldn't really taste the lemon or rosemary flavors, but Grandpa ADORED these olives, and he's VERY fussy.
TASTE: 8/10

Rustic Bakery Olive Oil and Sel Gris Flat Bread and Rustic Bakery Savory Cheese Coins
Carol LeValley and Josh Harris, specializing in creating artisan breads, crackers, cookies, and pastries by hand, in small batches, and from the finest organic grains and seeds. Initially designed to complement fine wine and gourmet cheese, Rustic’s artisan baked goods have since taken on a life of their own, appearing in artisan shops in San Francisco and in local and high-end grocery stores throughout Northern California. They have three locations in Marin County—where all of their goodies are produced—and where they regularly draw crowds for their popular breakfast menu and for loaves of freshly baked whole wheat bread. We can't resist the savory cheese coins!
Rustic Bakery’s famous Olive Oil and Sel Gris Flat Bread is a great compliment to pretty much everything, and a good palate cleanser, something to come back to between the richly complex flavors ahead.
We’ve also included Rustic Bakery’s Cheese Coins, savory cookies made with aged gruyere, artisan cheddar, and reggiano parmesan, along with enough butter and flour to keep them wonderfully crumbly.  These coins disappear in minutes in our house!
I'm going to review these separately, but together...

Flat Bread
This tasted like a stale saltine cracker or a baked burrito shell. Not saying that's bad, because I love the burrito shells. I really couldn't taste the oils or the other seasoning on the bread. These were very crunchy, but not to the 'break-your-teeth' crunchiness.
TASTE: 9/10

Cheese Coins
Honestly, these tasted just like Parmesan Cheez-its, but softer. I loved these.
TASTE: 10/10

Jade Chocolate's Mangoes & Chocolate
Mindy Fong left a career in architectural design to become a chocolatier after she fell in love with dark chocolate during her pregnancy with her daughter. Based in San Francisco, she melds flavors from Asia and the Pacific islands with those of the West to create distinctive treats.
Absolutely disgusting. I don't like dark chocolate to begin with, so the dark chocolate ruined this for me. Everyone that tried this had the same reaction... nobody liked it. The mango pieces were chewy, which were fine, but the dark chocolate doesn't meld well with the flavor of the mango.
TASTE: 2/10

June Taylor Candied Seville Orange Peel
June Taylor has been making fruit preserves in Berkeley, California since the late 1980s. Reviving the traditional art of fruit confectionery, she candies all the citrus peel not used in her marmalade making. We love the complex mix of sweet and bitter.
One word: YUM! These were very chewy. I liked the bitter 'bite' when I first started chewing a piece, then the sweetness hit. Very reminiscent of the gummy orange jelly slices.
TASTE: 9/10

One thing I like about Gift a Feast is the fact that they actually gift wrap the boxes for you. When the recipient receives their box, it truly IS like opening a gift.

Michael, Head 'elf' at Gift a Feast sent me this photo before my box was shipped.


Stock photo of the wrapped boxes -- I chose the 'Sweetheart' wrapping

I honestly don't see disabled people having an issue with these boxes, minus cutting the meats. As I said above, I needed Mama Melissa or Grandma to cut the salame for me, because it was difficult for me, even with a steak knife. Everything was easily opened.

Another plus to these boxes (with the exception of a few) is there is no cooking required. Just open the package and eat. That's a plus for those that have trouble cooking.

These gift boxes are available from The Gift-a-Feast website starting at $39.99 and higher.

FINAL THOUGHTS
An awesome idea to show your appreciation to a special family member, friend or colleague who's hard to shop for.
STARS:
WOULD RECOMMEND: Yes

**As per FTC guidelines, I received this product in exchange for an honest review. Only compensation I received is the product(s) mentioned above. All opinions are my own and your usage/results may vary.**

A HUGE THANKS TO GYPSY AND THE ELVES AT GIFT A FEAST FOR ALLOWING ME TO DO A REVIEW FOR THEM.